What If a Burglar Breaks In and You’re Home?
Wait, can you hear that? Sounds like someone’s knocking on your door. And you aren’t expecting anyone. Well, maybe that’s just your neighbor come to ask for some garden tools again.
You get up to go downstairs, but then you hear the noise of metal scratching in the keyhole. You stop, frozen in fear. Seconds later, you can hear the door clicking. The problem is that you live alone.
First, let’s make sure there really is someone in the house. But you should be very quiet in case there’s a burglar. Look outside the house to search for traces. Can you see anything suspicious? Is there an unknown vehicle close to your house? Maybe you can spot some footsteps or broken window? Was the fence gate open?
There might also be hints inside the house. But be careful if you’re looking for them: make sure you can’t be seen. Maybe there’re some lights off that are usually on. Or maybe there’s some mud on the floor that wasn’t there before.
Listen carefully to the sounds. Maybe you can hear some footsteps or movement, or the creak of a door. Wait. Did you hear it? Looks like someone bumped into your tea table. Okay, it looks like there really is someone in your house. Now, your next step is to try to get out of the house to be safe. If it’s possible, leave altogether.
Both the front door or the back door, or even a window works. If it’s a bit risky, you might want to try to escape. An injury is nothing compared with your life. If escaping’s not an option, then lock yourself somewhere. Bedrooms are usually the first rooms burglars check because that’s where most people keep their valuables.
So, it’s better to stay away from them. Still, if there’s no other way, bedroom’s better than nothing. Lock it and pretend you’re asleep. But if you can, then better hide somewhere else. The bathroom is a great choice, because usually it’s not of interest to burglars.
Now stay quiet. The burglar probably won’t spend more than 10 minutes in your house. If the intruder doesn’t find out you’re inside, you’ll avoid confrontation. The most important thing is you staying safe, so don’t move or make any noise. As soon as you’re safe and hidden, call the police immediately.
Remember, when calling them, always give your location first. In case something happens, and you’re not able to finish your conversation, at least they’ll know where to go. If you can do it without being noticed, try to study the intruder as carefully as you can. Make sure to remember their height, body type, the way of walking, hair color, race, gender, age, and any other specific details you might notice.
Anything you can spot will be helpful. If you can look outside and see the vehicle, remember its brand, color, and the license plate number. Then, wait again. Just freeze and never leave the place you’ve chosen until the burglar leaves or the authorities arrive and help you out.
But burglars don’t go to any random house. They don’t want to be noticed, so they choose their target very carefully. And you can make it so that they don’t pick yours. Make your house an open space. The greenery makes the house harder to observe, so burglars pick those houses that have the most of it. Make sure to trim all the shrubbery that hides windows and doors.
Turn on the lights as soon as it’s dark every day of the year. Illuminate everything: the porches, the driveway, the yard — both the front and the backyard. First, it makes the surroundings more visible, and burglars will prefer to stay away. Second, it makes an impression that there’s someone home. And they don’t want anyone to be there when they break in.
Lock all the doors and windows. People forget to close their bathroom window, and burglars know it very well. There should never be a way in. Don’t leave any secret way to enter the house in case you forget your keys. If you know about such a way, so do burglars.
If you have any trees too close to your house, cut the branches, so it’s not possible to climb it and get into any of the windows. Keep all of your tools and store ladders in a locked garage. Don’t ever keep them lying around when you don’t use them, because they all can be used to break into your house.
Don’t have any spare keys hidden in random places outside the house. Better give one to a neighbor you trust. When you move into a new house or apartment, change the locks if possible. Make sure that your doors look modern and reliable. Old and bad doors that are easy to crack attract burglars.
Don’t throw away copies of documents or unnecessary checks just like that. Burglars can check your trash to learn more about you. So, shred documents into itty bitty pieces before you throw them away. Don’t leave boxes from a new plasma TV, expensive phone, laptop, or gold watch near your house. Don’t show anybody that you’re well off.
Make sure that the house number is clearly displayed and can be easily noticed. This way, the authorities or any other help will be able to find your house way faster. Even if you have security cameras installed, they don’t guarantee that your house won’t become the target. The cameras are helpful when finding the robber after everything’s happened. But they don’t prevent any action.
Many robberies happen when people are away for some holiday. So, the burglars shouldn’t find out you’re not going to be home for a long time. Whenever you leave, make it look like you’re actually home. Tell your neighbors you’re leaving. Ask them to keep an eye on your house and check it from time to time.
To check if there’s someone currently living in the house, burglars often check the mail. If the mailbox is full, it means there’s no one living there right now. Ask your neighbor to collect the mail for you and clean the porch from ads and newspapers.
Burglars may also leave marks on your house. For example, they can put a thin strip cut from a plastic bottle into the doorway. If it stays on the door for one or two days, this tells the burglar that there is no one at home. So, ask your neighbor to check these things out, too.
Ask them to park their car occasionally in front of your house for a while. This will give an impression that you have visitors. Still, if the house stands quiet for days, it’s obvious there’s no one living there currently. You can set up the timer for lights, radio, or TV, so it works a couple of hours a day. If you’re leaving for a long time, make arrangements so that your grass is cut and watered or the snow in front of your house is shoveled.
It’s a good idea not to post photos from your vacation while you’re there. Burglars use social media, and they do their research. It’s dangerous even if you have a private account, because burglars can collaborate with tech-savvy criminals. They would break into the accounts of rich people, find out when they were going on vacation, and inform the burglars about it.
But before someone breaks into your house, they watch it for a while. They want to know when you’re home and when you’re not. If you start getting many random calls, it might be a sign that they check what time of the day you’re out. If the light sensors start malfunctioning, check immediately if everything’s alright. This doesn’t always mean there are problems with electricity. Burglars may cut the wiring.
Watch out for doors. If you notice scratches on the lock, or it’s becoming harder for you to open the door with your key, it might mean that someone tried to break into your house. Change the locks immediately.
A break-in starts with a knock on the door. If you happen to be home at the time, it’s important to learn how to answer it to scare them away. Always pretend like you’re not home alone. You can call out something like “Can anyone answer the door please?”. Teach your kids that they should never answer the door or open it to anyone unsupervised.